The Philadelphia Phillies are enjoying tremendous, unexpected early success, but are still likely to unload some players as the trade deadline approaches this summer.
It’s that time again. Trade season is upon us, perhaps a little earlier than in years past. Multiple writers have suggested that with the Washington Nationals’ recent contract extension for ace starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg, the trading market for pitching should begin to heat up a little earlier this season.
What that could mean to the market for not just pitching, but bats as well, remains to be seen. What is apparent is that the volume of traffic which the website MLBTradeRumors gets is probably going to be increasing very soon.
At first, I thought that it was ridiculous to even suggest trades this soon. Usually, general managers tend to just tinker around the edges with their rosters prior to Memorial Day.
That holiday normally marks the point at which many teams feel comfortable identifying strengths and weaknesses. By that point, the small sample size argument regarding slow starts and hot starts can seemingly be thrown the window.
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I’m going to begin a semi-regular series that updates the trade value of several of the players on the Phillies current roster. Rather than look at the entire roster, I’ll be focusing the conversation on three players at a time.
I want to do this with an eye toward both the present as well as the future. Therefore, there might be some names you wouldn’t think are available, but who the team might consider trading while their value remains high.
This will be the last time you see these names in this feature. Not only are they the most talented names on the current big league roster, they are under the cheapest contract terms of team control. No sense delving more into these players.
Trade Value Up:
When Hernandez was signed this offseason, it was almost universally critiqued as being a signing of an arm who the team would then be interested in flipping at the deadline. With a one-year deal and coming off a 2015 season where he was recovering from elbow surgery, Hernandez seemed the perfect candidate to hope would pitch effectively so the team could recoup something of value in late July.
Thus far, Hernandez has done exactly that, pitching to a 2.79 ERA in 19.1 innings. Defense independent stats concur that he’s been effective, recording a 2.54 FIP and 2.73 DRA. Essentially, he’s done exactly what the team has hoped he would do.
Now that many contending teams are beginning to figure out what they need for the stretch run, Hernandez has built a substantial amount of trade value for the Phillies. Look for him to be dealt, possibly even one of the first players to go.
Trade Value Down:
Early in the offseason there were rumors that Phillies management was looking to move Howard for basically anything. They were even offering to eat just about all of his remaining contract in order to facilitate a move.
This may be the understatement of the year, but at this point, no one is trading for Howard. Sure, his eight home runs might attract someone to bite on a left-handed pinch-hitter with power (career .302/.362/.683 off the bench), but as a regular, he’s not attractive.
With fewer and fewer teams using a roster spot on a DH-only player, there simply does not appear to be anywhere for the Big Piece to go at the present time. Perhaps this changes later in the summer.
Trade Value Up:
This will be the controversial choice, but read on before you judge.
I’m not advocating that ‘El Torito’ be traded at all. I’m simply pointing out that if the Phillies were to be interested in trading him, this might be the optimal time to cash in on widespread interest.
Herrera’s slash line of .333/.443/.458 is, amazingly, even better than last year. Normally, analysts would look at his .393 BABIP and scream “REGRESSION! REGRESSION!”, but note: for the season in 2015, he had a .387 BABIP. It seems that Herrera has the skill to literally “hit ’em where they ain’t“.
The reason why I say his value is up, rather than holding consistent: what can we expect from him going forward? The type of numbers that he has been producing as a second year player are actually quite unprecedented.
In the expansion era, there have only been two other players who have had a slash line of at least .300/.425/.450 and had enough plate appearances to qualify for a batting title in their second full season: Frank Thomas in 1991 and Wade Boggs in 1983. Is Herrera a future Hall of Famer?
Now, will Odubel be dealt? No, that is highly unlikely. It’s probably a 99.99% certainty that he remains a Phillies outfielder and lineup key for the forseeable future. But it certainly can’t hurt GM Matt Klentak to at least gauge his value on the market.